Detroit Lions debut for Halapoulivaati Vaitai is rough at unexpected position

Detroit Free Press

Dave Birkett
| Detroit Free Press

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Detroit Lions gave Halapoulivaati Vaitai a five-year, $50 million free agent contract this offseason to be their right tackle, but when Vaitai finally made his season debut Sunday, it came at right guard.

Lions coach Matt Patricia said he moved Vaitai to guard for Sunday’s 26-23 win over the Arizona Cardinals in part because of concerns over whether Vaitai would be able to play a full complement of snaps after missing the last two weeks with a foot injury.

“Any way we went with it I thought we were good,” Patricia said. “Certainly wasn’t sure how long Big V was going to be able to play from that standpoint, so just leaving some consistency on the edge with (Tyrell) Crosby I thought was a good idea and that way if we had to move something around based om how much we could keep him out there we’d move it inside as opposed to on the edge.”

Dave Birkett’s report card: Handing out our first A’s of season after upset of Cardinals

Crosby made his third straight start at right tackle and played well, while rookie right guard Jonah Jackson moved to left guard.

Joe Dahl, the Lions’ regular starter at left guard, will miss at least one more game with a groin injury.

Vaitai, who played sparingly at right guard during his four seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles, had a rough game. He allowed two sacks and got called for a holding penalty in the fourth quarter that negated a long pass play on the Lions’ game-winning field goal drive.

Oday Aboushi, who started last week at left guard in Dahl’s place, did not play an offensive snap.

“They get us for a holding penalty on a play that would have given us a lead,” Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford said. “But to be honest with you, I think there was probably a minute and a half left there, so it was probably great that we didn’t score there and we just got to finish the game on offense and kick it and the game be over with.”

Shawn Windsor: Give Matt Patricia credit: He outcoached Cardinals in win

Golladay’s return

Like Vaitai, wide receiver Kenny Golladay made his season debut Sunday after missing the last two weeks with injury — and picked up where he left off last season.

The NFL leader in touchdown catches in 2019, Golladay finished with team-highs of six catches for 57 yards Sunday, and scored the Lions’ second touchdown on a twisting 15-yard catch.

“It was really just me and Nine (Stafford) being on the same page,” Golladay said. “Once I just bent inside of the safety, I gave eyes right away and Staff just put a good ball, top shelf, for me to go get it.”

Carlos Monarrez: Lions’ upset of Cardinals means Patricia won’t be axed in-season

Golladay, who said Friday he still wasn’t 100% from the hamstring injury he suffered Sept. 9, said he had no issues with the injury Sunday. The Lions rotated him in and out of the lineup early in the game.

“I felt pretty good and the coaches did a good job with me of just monitoring it, and me also just listening to my body,” he said.

Contact Dave Birkett at Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett. The Free Press has started a new digital subscription model. Here’s how you can gain access to our most exclusive Lions content. 

Articles You May Like

Notes: Detroit Lions offense leads NFL in explosive plays
Lions open as huge underdogs vs. Vikings in Week 3
Detroit Lions game score vs. Minnesota Vikings: Live updates from Minneapolis
VIDEO: Best Dan Miller Detroit Lions radio calls vs. the Commanders
Taylor Decker and Josh Reynolds meet with media

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.